For other uses, see Somersault (disambiguation).
Somersault animation

A somersault (also flip, heli, and in gymnastics salto) is an acrobatic exercise in which a person's body rotates 360° around a horizontal axis with the feet passing over the head.[1] A somersault can be performed forwards, backwards, or sideways and can be executed in the air or on the ground. When performed on the ground it is typically called a roll. Somersault originates from an obsolete French word, sombresault, from Occitan sobresaut; and ultimately Latin – supra, "over", and saltus, "jump".


Front somersault in the pike position
Back somersault on one foot.

There are many variations of front and back somersaults. Somersaults can be performed in multiples, or multiples of quarter body revolutions, in some cases with additional twist rotations or ending in body landings, producing variations such as:


A pitch tuck somersault performed by acro dance partners.

The names and nomenclature used for somersaults varies among different sports and activities, as well as regionally. In competitive gymnastics and trampolining, standardized names have been assigned to all common variations, which may be performed in tucked, piked, or straight body orientations. Within British gymnastic associations, a crash dive is referred to as a 3/4 front somersault (straight). Similarly, a Barani Ballout is referred to as a Ballout Barani to indicate that the forward somersault is executed before the twist.

The word flip is synonymous with an airborne somersault in a number of countries. In contrast, in Britain and some other countries, a flip must rely on the arms to induce body revolution, and the body need not be completely airborne (hands may contact the floor).

The word somerset was also used in Victorian England to describe what today is called a somersault. For example, an 1843 poster advertising Pablo Fanque's Circus Royal boasts, "Mr. HENDERSON will undertake the arduous Task of THROWING TWENTY-ONE SOMERSETS, ON THE SOLID GROUND."

See also


  1. "Gymnastics 101: Glossary of Terms". USA Gymnastics. Retrieved 9 September 2015.
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